The Indian government has requested social media platforms Facebook and TikTok to remove users responsible for the spread of misinformation on their platforms. Given the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, many users have reportedly started creating and sharing videos that show people of a particular sect in a bad light. Such content is both harmful and misleading for people, especially when the whole world is going through a health crisis.
This comes courtesy of a Reuters report that cites a government source and an official letter seen by the news agency. These orders by the Indian government come after a massive digital investigation report by cybersecurity firm Voyager Infosec that sheds light on the patterns taken up by users of TikTok to spread targeted misinformation in order to influence a particular religious sect.
Our Digital Investigation Report on massive #Disinformation and #FakeNews Campaigns Targeting and Influencing Indian Muslims to ignore #COVID19 Health Advisories in the Name of Islam and Not Follow #SocialDistanacing and #lockdown advisories.@IndiaToday @AnkiitKoomar pic.twitter.com/T4sQfTYt7K— Voyager Infosec (@VoyagerInfosec) April 3, 2020
The official government order, as seen by Reuters, asks companies to restrict access of users who are peddling fake news and misinformation and “preserve” their account details. These details can be shared with law enforcement agencies if need be.
This flow of misleading information in the time of the Coronavirus outbreak has been termed as an “infodemic” by the World Health Organization. As efforts are made to curb the spread of fake news, Facebook and TikTok have responded by restricting users from posting any unofficial information about COVID-19 and is keeping an eye out for more such content on global social media platforms.
In a statement to Reuters, TikTok said, “We’re actively working with the government to support their efforts to fight misinformation, while proactively working towards elevating credible information related to COVID-19 on its platform.”
Facebook has also said that it’s ensuring adequate and aggressive measures are taken to contain the flow of fake news and misleading information around the Coronavirus outbreak. Facebook-owned WhatsApp recently introduced new limits on message forwarding to curb the spread of fake news.
At the time of writing, India is home to 5,360 Coronavirus positive cases with a reported 164 deaths till now. The mortality rate is at 26% where 74% of patients have been recovered. You can check out all a list of all the important trackers here. Given the ongoing health crisis, it’s important for people to steer clear of elements spreading misinformation and the government seems to be at the forefront of nabbing the responsible people.